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Ken Russell Nikki: Brighton Belle

Ken Russell Brighton Belles

Nikki Christine Thole interviewed by Iain Fisher about her role in Brighton Belles

 

Iain: How did you, as an American, get into soccer?

Nikki: I have always been an active person, even as a kid.  My father went up to school one day for a parent teacher conference and my 5th grade (11 years old).  The physical education teacher told him that he needs to put me in some sort of organized sport because I was such a good athlete in class.  So my father and I did not know how to go about this but we went to a few team tryouts but I did not make any of these select teams.  I then went and played on a few recreational teams (a boy's team too!) and came back and tried out again for a select team and made it!!  I absolutely loved it.  I played on like 3 teams at a time and would go to clinics throughout the summer.  I was obsessed!!

What is the thrill for you?

The thrill to me is that you have so much freedom in the sport.  I love challenge and trying to beat people one on one.  I became very successful on all of the teams.

Which team do you play for?

I played since I was eleven.  I played for a team called Coca-Cola, then I switched to Busch Soccer Club, then I played for my highschool, Lindbergh; I then went to college and played for 4 years at University of Missouri (division 1 program) where I was the first All-American.  Then I moved to Colorado and played for the semi-pro team, Mile High Mustangs (where I met Shawn Kenyon, co-star on Belles) and then I came to England to try an international level of soccer.

Is women's soccer established in America?

Very established.  Right now I coach girls and boys that are 4-5 years old!  There are soccer programs available for all ages, all levels.

Do you often come to Britain or other countries to play?

Many elite athletes will try to go to Europe or the UK to play at a higher level.

 

Ken Russell's Brighton Belles

 

When did you first hear about the film and how did you get involved?

At one of our first practices they said that this famous director wants to do a documentary on the team.  And then after doing some research footage, Anton (with the BBC) and Ken decided to do it on the two "Americans"!  We were shocked, and at first I was opposed to it and Shawn loved the idea!  Then we had so much fun, it didn't matter!

Did you enjoy the filming?

Shawn and I loved it!!  We laughed so hard and had so much fun!!  I will never forget it!!

Did you have a script, or a storyline etc, and did you rehearse?

We tried to be as natural as possible.  Diving in the ocean actually was something Shawn and I wanted to do (believe it or not!).  I think the film accurately reflects our personalities and situations.

We did not rehearse but we did have to do a few "takes" on some parts.  Sometimes but not often.  There wasn't much preparing, only trying to schedule games to watch.

How did Ken direct you?

He would make us laugh, I think he got a feel for how our personalities were and just did things to bring them out in us for the camera.  He is very unique!!

The crew consisted of 4 people including a sound and camera person.  It took 5 full days of filming, I would estimate.

 

The film

 

What did you think of the film?

It really showed the real Shawn and I. But there just wasn't much soccer

It was accurate and it wasn't.  Yes and No.  I don't think it showed how competitive we are and the level of our abilities.  There just wasn't opportunity to film the soccer because we were limited in games because of weather, and practices were at night where it was dark.

What sort of things were left out?

Our unhappiness of the situation of not being able to play many games.  We travelled far to come play and there were only a few competitive games.

What is Ken like as a person?

He is unique and funny.  We laughed for hours during and after the first filming session.  We knew he liked us because we made him laugh!

I had heard of him before because of Tommy.  I have seen a few other works, and he really is very different!

 

The future

 

What's the next thing for you?

I just received a promotion in my current career field of Parks and Recreation.  This is what I went to the University for and I love my new position.  Soccer gave me a scholarship to get where I am today!! and I am grateful!  I just also had my 4th knee surgery a couple months ago and I am almost fully recovered.  Who knows what the future holds...

 

Thanks Iain, Its been a lot of fun.  This brings back many wonderful memories!  Say hi to Ken if you see him!

Nikki
May 2003

Nikki Christine Thole

 

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